Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 14 October 2022


SUBJECTS: Classified document leak from the Colombian Government; Global methane pledge.

NATALIE BARR: The methods and identities of secret agents working to stop international drug cartels from operating in Australia have been exposed in a massive leak of classified documents from the Colombian Government.  More than five terabytes of data, including over five million emails and tens of thousands of documents have been hacked. The leak contains the details of 35 AFP operations, some still ongoing, as well as surveillance reports from undercover agents, phone taps and payroll records. 

For their views let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley.  Good morning to both of you.  Jason, another day, another data breach. Is the Government concerned following this latest hack? 

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: It’s very serious. We all know about Colombian drug cartels and their tentacles stretch out right across the world, including here in Australia where you’ve got criminals working with them. It seems from the story on the front page of some of the papers today that this information came to light last week, and they’ve tipped off the AFP about it and given them a week before publishing this story. That’s the right thing to do. That’s a sort of professional approach by the media to try to protect those AFP operations. But this is serious, and I suspect the AFP will have more to say about it today. 

BARR: Yeah, Sussan, from the reports, and we’re not sure how correct some of this information is, the journalists have tipped off the AFP.

SUSSAN LEY: Nat, may I start by saying I’m on the banks of the Murray River in minor to moderate flood and a huge thank you to the SES who you are portraying so well on your program, knocking on doors in the middle of the night and keeping us safe. But I’m really worried for the safety of those police, law enforcement officers and I expect the Government to get on top of this really quickly, because we don’t want any of these people to be in harm’s way, and we absolutely need to address their safety as a top priority. So, there’s actions for the Government here, not just actions for the AFP. 

BARR: Yeah, Jason, 35 AFP operations, phone taps, surveillance reports. Are we as a nation and you as a government worried about the safety of any AFP officers at this stage? 

CLARE: Well, I think that’s why it’s important that the media told the AFP about this leak that happened not in Australia, as I read the story, I see this has happened in Colombia. But because you’ve got Colombian drug cartels that stretch across the world that are importing drugs around the world, and so you’ve got organisations like the AFP or the FBI and other police organisations around the world that are all interconnected to this, that when you have a leak like this it has a massive impact. That’s why I say this shouldn’t be an issue of partisan politics. This is about working with police agencies to protect law enforcement officers, and I’d expect that the AFP will have more to say about that over the course of the day. 

BARR: Okay. Australia is also considering signing up to US President Joe Biden’s global methane pledge which plans to limit emissions by 30 per cent from 2020 levels by the end of the decade. Jason Clare, Nationals leader David Littleproud says signing this pledge is the end of the Aussie barbecue. Is the sausage sizzle under threat here? 

CLARE: Nat, I know we’re talking about cow farts, but this is just bulldust. This is an agreement that 120 countries have signed up to. We’ve said we’re having a look at it. We’re talking to meat producers about this. It talks about a global aspiration, not domestic targets here. It seems like the Libs and the Nats haven’t learned anything from that rubbish from a couple of years ago about how electric cars are going to ruin the weekend. I just urge the Opposition to be a little bit more sensible here rather than this ridiculous language. 

NATALIE BARR: Well, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton is calling it a tax on cows. Barnaby Joyce says: “we’ll pay more for beef … it’s pledging away our sovereignty”. Sussan Ley, is that the case? 

LEY: So, haven’t our farmers been through enough, Nat? We’ve had floods, we’ve had fires, we’ve had droughts. And our beef farmers produce for the nation and the world and if this is just a global aspiration pledge, why do it at all? Why put our farmers under pressure? It’s exactly what Peter Dutton said it was, it’s a tax, and it’s something that our rural producers should not be faced with. And maybe it’s not a tax straight away, Jason, but I bet it’s a whole lot more paperwork, I bet it’s a whole lot more demonstrating how many cows you have, how much methane they emit. 

CLARE:  This is just rubbish. This is just red meat for your base. 

LEY: We looked at this, Nat, and we said no because we’re here for rural producers and we represent rural Australians. And people in the Liberal and National Party actually live in the parts of Australia where beef cattle and sheep and crops, which by the way are under water as we speak, where we, you know, we represent those communities, and we know how this sort of nonsense affects them. 

BARR: Except there’s an exception for farmers so that’s ‑‑

CLARE: The nonsense is saying that we’re not going to have barbecues anymore, you know, or we’re not going to have a weekend or Whyalla’s going to get wiped out. It’s just rubbish. 

BARR: Don’t worry, the barbecue will live on. 

LEY: Except why do it? Why do it? Why do it if it links, if it links a global pledge to the actions of our farmers? Why do it in the first place? It makes no sense.

BARR: We’ve got to go. 

CLARE: You can work on technology to fix it. You can work on technology to fix it.

BARR: We’re covering the floods, as you’ve said, Sussan, so we’ve got to get to that breaking news. Thank you both.

Media Contact:    John Flannery 02 6277 7350